Smart City Initiatives

Leading examples of smart cities across the globe

Dubai Smart City: Paving the Way With Innovation and Technology

As smart city initiatives take the world by storm, Dubai is positioning itself as a global leader in innovation and urban development. Let’s take a look at how the city plans to protect the environment and improve the lives of its citizens.

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How Dubai Is Becoming a Smart City

The city of Dubai launched the Dubai Smart City project in 2013 to transform Dubai into a leading hub of livability, sustainability, and innovation. Spearheaded by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the project leans on public-private partnerships to propel the city into the future.

Dubai Smart City covers a range of initiatives to integrate advanced communication and internet of things (IoT) technologies into the physical infrastructure and services of the city. IoTs such as sensors that detect weather conditions and motion, can better the sustainability and safety of buildings. Data analysis can also improve the efficiency of services like waste collection.

Dubai’s Smart City Strategy

The Smart Dubai 2021 roadmap outlines the transformation agenda of the city. The plan addresses social, economic, and governmental services, as well as the urban environment, with the aim of improving the living experience of both residents and visitors to Dubai.

The smart Dubai office hopes to provide seamless, efficient, safe, and personalized services. Along with promoting economic growth and addressing resource and infrastructure resilience, the smart Dubai initiative emphasizes customer happiness.

To help achieve its goal of becoming the happiest city in the world, Dubai has launched the Happiness Meter project. It is the first initiative of its kind, measuring public satisfaction on a daily basis. A central network collects data from government websites and applications and from electronic devices installed at various locations, allowing the city to monitor services and identify areas for improvement.  

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) appointed a Minister for Happiness and Wellbeing and a Minister for Artificial Intelligence. The UAE hosted the global dialogue for happiness and world government summit in Dubai, where leaders and professionals discussed strategies for improving happiness. Some key parameters include economic prosperity, physical and mental health, individual freedom, robust social support networks, and shared public trust in social, business, and governmental institutions.

Learn more about smart city initiatives in our guide: Singapore Smart City: A Holistic Transformation

Dubai Smart City Objectives

The 2021 vision focuses on six key objectives:

  • Smart living: Improves services and prepares the city for environmental and other challenges. For example, incorporating technologies into the water and electricity infrastructures to help identify and manage outages, and supplying communication technologies to help coordinate the response of authorities and residents to emergencies.
  • Smart economy: As a regional hub of trade, finance, and tourism, Dubai hopes to boost its global competitiveness. The city promotes research and development and employs simplified regulation and digital technologies to provide services like instant licensing.
  • Smart people: Promotes digital literacy and empowers residents to take advantage of the services and cultural events of the city. For example, people can access health and educational services online. They can easily book appointments and view medical results, or enroll in courses and pay tuition.
  • Smart mobility: Enables individuals to move around quickly, easily, and safely. Dubai hopes to reduce traffic by encouraging shared transportation and embracing technologies like autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure. Furthermore, the city plans to eliminate the need to travel to receive certain services by providing digital access to them.
  • Smart environment: Reduces pollution to ensure sustainable development. Examples of environmental measures include a network of air quality monitoring stations, a system of tariffs to control water and power usage, and a transition to low-emissions vehicles.
  • Smart government: Provides efficient and user-friendly government services that emphasize digitization to enable a transition to cashless transactions and paperless services. This will reduce the need to visit government offices.

Learn more about smart city initiatives in our guide: Amsterdam’s Smart City: Ambitious Goals, Collaborative Innovation

Technology and Innovation in Dubai

Dubai aims to launch us into the future their latest ground-breaking innovations.

  • Hyperloop Dubai: This project aims to cut the 139km (86mi) journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to a mere 12 minutes! The vacuum-tube train, or vactrain, will run on a magnetic levitation (maglev) line and reach speeds of up to 1200km (745mi) per hour.
  • Dubai Robocop: This experimental robot patrols the streets 24/7 to keep an eye on criminals. If the pilot is successful, these bots could make up a quarter of the Dubai police patrolling force by 2030.
  • Dubai Blockchain: Set to be the first municipal government to be powered by blockchain, Dubai intends to digitize all its paperwork by 2020. Apart from time and money, this could save thousands of trees and simplify government services and financial transactions. Apps like DubaiPay and the Emirati cryptocurrency called emCash are already accessible. Smart Dubai has partnered with tech giants like IBM and Consensys to develop its cryptographic technology.
  • Autonomous Air Taxi: This service, with a trial launched in September 2017, uses 18-rotor volocopters that don’t require a pilot. However, these drones seat two passengers and can only fly for 30 minutes at a time.
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park: This mega solar plant will eventually by the largest of its kind in the world, with 215 square kilometers (83 square miles) of photovoltaic panels surrounding a 260 meter (853 foot) solar tower. The park is part of a project that aims to supply Dubai with 75% clean energy by 2050.

The Regional Influence of Smart Dubai

The Dubai Smart City initiative is an ambitious project that aims to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world by 2021. The various experiments, if successful, will demonstrate the benefits of a range of smart technologies and policy reforms and boost the economy and living standards of the city.
Initiatives like Smart Dubai have inspired city authorities across the region to adopt similar plans for technologically advanced and economically sustainable development. These authorities hope to leverage the growing expertise and technology available in the region and promote collaboration to engage with citizens and improve their quality of life.